Sunday, July 13, 2008

Equine dental care

My horses had their teeth floated recently. I got no pictures of Montana during the process, because he has a strong reaction to the mild sedative the vet uses and I had to hold him up -- he was leaning waaaay sideways with his rear end and it was nerve-wracking. Johnny plants his feet far apart and stands like a sailor on deck.

Our vet has invested in some power tools for dental work, so it now goes much faster than the old hand rasp method.

It was news to me years ago to learn that horses' teeth grow constantly throughout their lives. As ruminants, they are constantly grinding down and regenerating tooth material; if their grinding surfaces don't match, sharp points develop and can really tear their mouths up inside.

One horse at a former boarding barn had a lifetime of crazy behavior: bucking in the show ring for no apparent reason, taking off at a wild gallop. Someone finally decided to look carefully inside his mouth, and he had the worst case of points and sores the vet had ever seen. Three extensive dental jobs later, he was a different animal altogether.

Happy mouth, happier horse.


20 meter circle of life said...

Open up and say AHHHHH! The first time I watched a dental I thought I might faint. But we do it every year and they dont seem to mind.

Flying Lily said...

Yes, that vise they put in their mouths, and then the grinding is pretty rough...but amazingly the horses stand still for it quite happily (well they are drugged!).

Mrs Mom said...

We are lucky down here to have a fantastic equine dentist. He is in high demand all over the state, and I count my lucky stars to be able to get him when we need him. THe horses LOVE him, and he has a great way of working with them. He also takes the time it takes, and will explain everything to us. All around a great thing!

Gotta love those drunken poses

Flying Lily said...

MrsMom, does your equine dentist's last name begin with B? I think I might know him...and if so, he's terrific!

jesterjigger said...

I *hate* watching my horses get their teeth done. Someone about seeing them drowsy and with their heads held up just scares me on a deeper level. But I like being there for them for it (Jessie would stand perfectly still if I stroked his cheek the whole time, as soon as I stop he'd start trying to move). But I'd feel good once it was over, knowing that they were going to be much happier eating/being ridden.

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Flying Lily said...

Jester, I know just what you mean about the scariness of your normally full-of-beans horse, tilting at an angle and eyelids half-mast...

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

It is amazing the difference getting teeth worked on can make.
Moon had a bad mouth and it has taken several workovers to get his narrow little scissor mouth in good working order. But he is like a different horse now-gained weight, runs better and isn't so darn crabby.
Makes it so nice when you have someone who is good and they have these wonderful new power tools. The old rasp method sure couldn't do as good a job and often made a horse's mouth sore for days.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I've seen a lot of behavioral problems solved just by having their teeth taken care of. I'm sure everyone feels better now that it is finally over.

Momma / Cowgirl said...

Gosh, now I feel terrible. I have not have my horses teeth floated since we got them. One we have had for 4 years, she is 22 years old now. The vet did tell us her teeth are most likely to the point they do not needing floating anymore.
My palomino does need her teeth done, but no money right now. I will hopefully be able to do it in a few months.Vet says she should be okay for even longer because she grinds very pretty evenly.

Too funny about the leaning part, I remember about when my QH was drugged, she tried so hard to stand upright. *smiles*